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Authors: Linda Castillo

A Whisper in the Dark

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Table of Contents
 
 
PRAISE FOR DEPTH PERCEPTION
“A tightly written novel of romantic suspense by an author at the top of her game.”
—All About Romance
 
“An exciting page-turner,
Depth Perception
will appeal to the fans of Beverly Barton and Iris Johansen. This tense thriller will keep you up way past midnight.”
—The Best Reviews
 
“A fabulous, taut paranormal thriller that grips readers . . . The story line is action-packed and filled with atmosphere that has the audience gasping as the tension mounts . . . Exciting . . . A terrific read.”
—Midwest Book Review
 
“Explosive . . . Deep [and] emotional . . . A riveting adventure.”
—The Romance Reader’s Connection
 
 
FADE TO RED
 
“Castillo is pushing the envelope. And she is doing a very convincing and, yes, disturbingly good job . . . This is not a book for the fainthearted . . . If you like nothing better than an adrenaline rush and a hero and heroine possessing multiple character layers, then be assured that
Fade to Red
will be exactly what you are looking for and so much more.”
—A Romance Review
 
“A throwback to the old days of romantic suspense . . . chilling . . . Great character development; an ability to totally immerse the reader into the sleazy underbelly of porn and cause a shiver or two.”
—Romance Reviews Today
 
“Enlightening and original.”
—The Romance Reader
 
“Chillingly graphic—romantic suspense at its best.”
—The Best Reviews
THE SHADOW SIDE
 
“An electrifying chiller rife with action and passion . . . splendid.”
—The Dallas Morning News
 

The Shadow Side
is exhilarating romantic suspense . . . never slows down until the final moment. Read this thriller.”
—Midwest Book Review
 
“Stunning. A masterpiece of suspense polished off with a raw romance. This book, the best romantic suspense I’ve ever read, knocked me out. The characters were hot, the story was downright chilling . . . but so compelling. The pace constantly keeps you on the edge . . . giving you twists and turns and never giving you any clues as to what’s going to happen next . . . until the very last minute! Don’t miss this thriller; you’ll be sorry if you do. They don’t come any better than this.”
—Romance and Friends
 
 
THE PERFECT VICTIM
 
“Castillo has a winner! I couldn’t stop turning the pages!”
—Kat Martin,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Fire Inside
 

The Perfect Victim
is a gripping page-turner. Peopled with fascinating characters and intricately plotted . . . compelling suspense that never lets up. A first-class reading experience!”—Katherine Sutcliffe, bestselling author of
Darkling, I Listen
and
Obsession
 
“An exciting thriller . . . action-packed [and] powerful . . . a strong tale that fans of suspense will love.”
—Midwest Book Review
“Intense action . . . sizzling sex . . . a thrilling climax . . . the reader is carried along on the ride.”—Lynn Erickson, author of
After Hours
 
“Linda Castillo delivers a powerhouse punch.”
—Merline Lovelace, author of
After Midnight
 
“Realistic dialogue, beautifully vivid descriptions, and an intricate plot add up to a chilling, fast-paced, riveting read.”
—Library Journal
 
“Both romantic and suspenseful—and in nearly equal measures. If you’re looking for a real page-turner with a strong and determined heroine, and an even stronger, even more determined hero, you’ve found it.”
—All About Romance
 
“I couldn’t put this book down . . . The escalating suspense and sexual tension pushes the story forward and keeps you hooked. Not many authors keep me up all night but Linda has succeeded with this riveting read.”
—The Best Reviews
Titles by Linda Castillo
THE PERFECT VICTIM
THE SHADOW SIDE
FADE TO RED
DEPTH PERCEPTION
DEAD RECKONING
A WHISPER IN THE DARK
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
A WHISPER IN THE DARK
 
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley Sensation edition / August 2006
 
Copyright © 2006 by Linda Castillo.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-0-425-21138-0
 
BERKLEY SENSATION®
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY SENSATION is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 

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PROLOGUE
John Merrick had always liked the takedown. He liked
the adrenaline rush of walking into a dark warehouse, knowing he had only his partner, his Heckler and Koch .45 semiautomatic and his own nerve to back him up. As far as he was concerned, the more risk, the better the rush.
He moved through the dark warehouse with the stealth of a big cat on the prowl. Gripping the pistol, he slid soundlessly along the wall, his every sense homed in on the pallets and crates stacked ceiling high and dead ahead. He could feel the scream of blood through his veins, the burn of adrenaline in his gut, the heady zing of nerves crawling just beneath his skin.
Chicago PD had received the tip just that morning. A ton of Bolivian cocaine had been trucked in from Guadalajara, Mexico, and unloaded in this South Side warehouse. Tomorrow, the drug would be broken down into smaller shipments, loaded into trucks with hidden panels and shipped all over the nation. Within days, one ton of pure poison would hit the streets across America.
It was John’s responsibility to make sure that didn’t happen.
Big Joe Hartigan had been eluding the narcotics task force and DEA for the better part of four years. Tonight, Chicago PD had him squarely in their crosshairs, and there was no way in hell they were going to let him slip away. It would be the largest bust of John’s twelve-year career—and the biggest takedown in the history of the department.
John fully intended to be the one doing the taking down.
His heart thrummed steadily as he sidled into an aisle, the H&K leading the way, a hollow-point bullet ready in the chamber. The warehouse was immense and as dark and silent as a tomb. But John knew there were at least six other cops making entry simultaneously. Two at the loading bays at the rear of the building. One at the second-level fire escape. Three more at the front door. John had been assigned the side exit. And like a finely choreographed ballet, the seven men moved in from all directions as a single, deadly unit.
John rounded a corner, found the first aisle clear, and moved silently to the next. In the back of his mind he wondered when the rats would start jumping out . . .
The air hung thick with tension and the dark anticipation of violence. He could feel both of those things edging through him, like a blade nicking just deep enough to draw blood. He wasn’t superstitious, but the hairs at his nape prickled with a sensation he could only describe as foreboding.
He cleared another aisle then approached the next. Peering around a crate, he found the row deserted. Puzzled, he lowered his firearm and listened, hearing only the pound of blood through his veins.
Where the hell were Hartigan’s thugs?
Movement at the end of the aisle drew his gaze. John dropped into a shooter’s stance, spread his legs, raised the pistol. Adrenaline stung his gut when he spotted the man in blue jeans and a ponytail holding a sawed-off shotgun the size of a cannon.
“Police officer!” John shouted. “Drop your weapon! Do it
now
!”
As if in slow motion, the shotgun came up. A quiver of fear ran the length of John. He heard the sound of shoes against concrete behind him. Shit, he thought. Backing toward cover, he spun in a half circle. A second man behind him raised a pistol.
Instinct kicked in. John’s finger jerked against the trigger. The .45 bucked in his hand. The explosion deafened him, made his ears ring. Cordite stung his nostrils. The man crumpled to the floor.
John swung the pistol around to the other man to find him gone. “Shit,” he muttered. “
Shit!

He hit his mike. “Shots fired! North exit! Gimme backup
now
!” Without waiting for a response, he started toward the downed man.
The perp lay motionless on the concrete floor, in a widening pool of blood. John kicked away the gun. It was too dark to see exactly where the man had been shot, but John could tell from the amount of blood that the injury was bad. Maybe even fatal.
Trying not to think about that, he knelt. “I’m a police detective. Chicago PD. You’ve been shot. Just . . . take it easy. An ambulance is on the way.”
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